Witch-Hunting is a barbaric practice. Numerous lives are consumed from this practice every year. It isn’t very pleasant to see that this practice is becoming a custom in society. People are becoming more and more blind to the issue. It is to be seen that generally, the victims of the practice are women. There is no legal code for witch hunt despite the violence involved in it. This exhibits a sense of antagonism against a particular section of society.
In Rome, there was a massive execution of 170 women after being labeled as witches in 331 B.C. After the introduction of Christianity in Roman State, the practice subsided.
The inhumane rituals of witch-hunting spread in other European countries during the middle ages. But in early modern times, the situation leads to its worse. Women were burnt alive for the alleged offense of witchcraft. The problem got in control in the 18th century, and the last case of witch hunt was heard on time only.
People who are economically weak and belong to the marginalized sections are often the target of this practice. In Sub-Saharan Africa, women, as well as children, have been witnessed as the victims of the witch crafting. Another country where the practice can be seen commonly in Nepal. And there too, the targets are mostly the women belonging to the lower sections of the society.
In today’s time, the practice of witch-hunting is an offense and is punishable by death, only in Saudi Arabia.
Such practices can still be noticed in some parts of India. In the name of a witch hunt, women are beaten, raped, tortured, murdered, and even burnt. As per reports, between 2016-2019, 123 people have lost their lives for being accused of witch-hunting by the mobs. In 2017, a woman was beaten to death in a village of Rajasthan, after being accused of practicing black magic.
Some women in Gujarat were even thrown out of their homes because they asked the men not to spoil the land they grow crops on. They were falsely accused of practicing witch hunt by those men. In India, every day, a woman is killed for being accused of this offense.
In some parts of India, women have been paraded naked in the entire village and gang-raped and beaten to death, just for being accused of practicing witchcraft and men being men, wanted to show their supremacy over a woman.
Laws pertaining to Witch-Hunt
The foremost reason for witch-hunting is the absence of a National Statutory Provision. Though, every state has its own enactments to handle the issue. The first state to give approbation to the Legislation in the Prevent of Witch Practices Act, 1999, is Bihar. Assam Witch Hunting Bill, 2015, recently got the Presidential affirmation. According to the Act, the practice is a non-bailable offense with up to 7 years of imprisonment, and a reward of Rs. 5 Lakhs will be given to the person recognizing a witch.
Nonetheless, there is a significant failure of the code, as yet there is no sufficient legal support for victims who are falsely accused. The criminalizing witch hunt is the need of the hour, and affirmative measures need to be taken in an investigation.